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Top tips for the weekend

Millwall celebrate reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals
1 of 1

Sky Bet Football League
3pm Saturday

Oldham v Millwall
Giantkillers Millwall are guaranteed a great day out in next month's FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham but first Neil Harris's side face three hugely important matches that could go a long way to shaping the remainder of their Sky Bet League One campaign.

Home dates with Peterborough and MK Dons are on the horizon but before that the Lions, defensive kings in recent weeks, head to Oldham and look worth backing to maintain their playoff push.

Bradford's James Meredith scored the only goal they have conceded in their last ten games, a run of matches that includes home triumphs against Premier League trio Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester.

Maybe their efforts with ten men against Leicester played a part in Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Chesterfield. It was a bitterly disappointing result but it was a game totally dominated by Millwall despite Harris making six changes to his starting 11.

Some of those were enforced and Jordan Archer and Steve Morison are sidelined for this trip too, but Jake Cooper is back from suspension, while Calum Butcher, Shane Ferguson and Shaun Cummings should be good to go again after a midweek rest.

If Millwall maintain their high defensive standards it may take only one goal to see off the strugglers and even without Morison there is enough in Aiden O'Brien and Lee Gregory for them to triumph.

Oldham have picked up recently thanks to three wins and a draw in their last five matches but it has come from a comfortable run of fixtures against Chesterfield (23rd), MK Dons (16th), Coventry (24th), Charlton (13th) and Swindon (22nd).

The 0-0 draw with Swindon last week was a complete fluke - the Robins won the shot count 20-5 (not including blocks) with six attempts on target to Oldham's none.

In the short term, Oldham can be delighted with a point but the bigger picture is that it was a worrying performance and only Port Vale are averaging fewer shots on target in the division.

Recommendation
Millwall
2pts 6-5 bet365, Betfair, Hills

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Gillingham v Southend
This weekend's matches in the bottom two divisions are a repeat of the opening round of fixtures and so much has changed for Gillingham and Southend since August.

Gillingham were deserving 3-1 winners on that day and repeated the trick three days later in the EFL Cup, but Phil Brown has since been busy creating a Shrimpers squad he says is the best he has had since arriving in March 2013.

Peterborough were put to the sword in a convincing 4-1 triumph at London Road on Tuesday, while Northampton were fortunate to escape with a 2-2 draw last Saturday and before that Southend beat a talented Oxford team 2-0.

Brown's boys have lost two of their last 21 league matches - one of those came against leaders Sheffield United and the other was with ten men at Millwall.

Gillingham have drawn six of their last seven matches but are without a win since Christmas and Southend are worth backing on the Asian handicap. Half the stake will be returned if the match finishes level.

Recommendation
Southend -0.25 on Asian handicap
1pt Evs bet365

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Leyton Orient v Cheltenham
If Leyton Orient are to drop out of the Sky Bet Football League they will do so swinging as many punches as possible under Danny Webb.

Orient's latest manager has taken the shackles off the players since taking over the troubled club and as an attacking unit there has been little wrong with their recent performances, a 3-2 win at Plymouth and a defeat by the same score at home to Notts County.

The players have spoken of their admiration for Webb, who has ditched endless chat about the opposition to focus on Orient getting after teams. They have forced 17 shots on target in their last two games and will be gunning for victory in this real relegation six-pointer at home to fellow strugglers Cheltenham.

Maybe Webb is going for the throat because he can't rely on his kids to keep clean sheets. Key men Liam Kelly and Nicky Hunt are suspended and Tom Parkes went off injured early on against County.

Cheltenham have scored in eight of their 11 games in 2017 since Gary Johnson revamped the squad, although the Robins have managed a clean sheet only twice in 19 away matches.

Expect plenty of thrills and at least three goals.

Recommendation
Over 2.5 goals
1pt 11-10 general

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Plays of the day

Banker
Leipzig 8-11
High-flying Leipzig have won eight of their ten home Bundesliga matches and are back to near their best with key players returning. Visitors Cologne are not at full-strength for their long trip east.

Blowout
AFC Wimbledon 7-5
It's only one win in 12 now for the Wombles, while Walsall's only defeat in their last eight came at Bolton. Despite that some firms are as low as 6-5 for a home win.

Accumulator
Brighton 4-6, Leipzig 7-10, Lazio 4-9, Liverpool 4-6 Hills

Both teams to score
Games at Coventry 7-8, Carlisle 4-6, Crewe 10-13 188Bet

Hotshot
Aiden O'Brien 13-2 bet365
With Steve Morison unavailable it seems likely O'Brien will partner
9-2 first-scorer favourite Lee Gregory up front. Gregory's average minutes per league goal is 185 compared to O'Brien's 200 but the Irishman does not always play as a central striker.


Thought for the week

At the start of this season I profiled the Premier League managers for the sack-race market and said of Claudio Ranieri: "They say anything can happen in football but having led Leicester to the title surely there is no chance of the champions sacking Ranieri".

Clearly anything can happen but if it's true that player power got rid of Ranieri - and caretaker Craig Shakespeare did not do a great job of ending the rumours - then shame on Leicester's squad.

Shame on those players who were happy to ride with Ranieri when it suited them, being given flashy motors by the club for winning the title (before the manager was sorted out with the same bonus), some signing bumper new pay deals and selling their wedding photos to magazines.

Apparently some of them were unhappy with the tinkering, which is a surprise as most of them couldn't wait to make modifications to the new BMWs bought for them in the summer. Some change it seems is better than others.

There seems to be some weird opinion that Leicester were definitely going down, backed up by absolutely nothing other than the Foxes had been on the kind of bad run a club of their size will sometimes go on. However, given the list of probable replacements Ranieri was as likely as anyone else to get Leicester out of trouble.

Ranieri is not a great manager but I would rather be him than those who stuck the knife in. Foxes? More like snakes.

If Millwall maintain their high defensive standards it may take only one goal to see off the strugglers and even without Morison there is enough in Aiden O'Brien and Lee Gregory for them to triumph
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